Five Lancashire referees enjoyed the experience of officiating at the IberCup World Youth Football Tournament in Estoril, Portugal - with two picking up the tournament's major accolades.
Matthew Archibald (Rochdale), Jonathan Chadwick (Wigan), Matthew Clarke (Bury), Owen Hay (Blackpool) and Daniel Sims (Leigh) represented Lancashire FA earlier this month, with Referee Development Officer Lewis Smith and Select Group 2 Referee Darren Bond also in attendance.
Jonathan Chadwick won the Best Referee of the Tournament, while Matthew Clarke won the Best Assistant Referee of the Tournament.
The IberCup tournament hosts over 110 referees from around the globe, and teams from six continents, including the likes of Liverpool FC, Sporting Lisbon, FC Madrid, FC Pumas and Michigan State, compete in the event.
U16s Boys Final
Referee - Jonathan Chadwick
U18s Girls Final
4th Official - Owen Hay
U14s Boys Play Off B Final
Referee - Matthew Archibald
4th Official - Daniel Sims
U15s Boys Play Off B Semi-Final
Referee - Jonathan Chadwick
Assistant Referee - Owen Hay
Assistant Referee - Matthew Clarke
U13s Boys Play Off B Semi-Final
Referee - Daniel Sims
4th Official - Matthew Archibald
Our Lancashire FA team spent the first day and a half of their trip taking part in theory sessions based around player management and communication and how to referee international players with a language barrier, as well as sessions on positioning and game empathy.
Between July 4th and July 7th, the competition's group stage games were held, where all officials officiated on four games a day between 9am and 2pm, alternating between referee and assistant referee. Coaches observed all the games, made video recordings and took notes.
Each night, all five officials and two coaches went through a debrief of each game, providing the referees with feedback and areas for development along with peer to peer evaluation with the other referees. Group discussions on best practice and what we can learn from each other were also held.
The tournament's play-offs and semi-finals were held on 8th July, and the finals took place on 9th July.
Lewis Smith said: "This is the second year that we have taken out a group of our academy referees to officiate in an international tournament and once again it has proven to be a huge success.
"Over the course of the eight days in Portugal, the professionalism and dedication of our referees was second to none and they can be extremely proud of the way in which they represented Lancashire FA.
"I have no doubt that they return to England as much more accomplished match officials than when they arrived in Portugal.
"It was extremely pleasing for Darren and I to see the referees take on board the feedback provided and put this into practice when refereeing and it was evident that as the tournament progressed, their performances were developing and this was shown in their final appointments.
"Out of the 110 referees that were at the tournament, for the top two awards to be given to Lancashire referees just goes to show the hard work that we are currently doing within the county and it is pleasing to see this come to fruition and that our referees are receiving the recognition that they deserve."
Referee Jonathan Chadwick said: "The experience of working in a team with the other four referees and refereeing international players at the IberCup tournament was fantastic, whilst the coaching from Lewis and Darren was second to none.
"They provided us with excellent feedback and have shown me how I can enhance my game to make sure that I am a better official back in England.
"The trip was a fantastic experience - I made great friends, learned an invaluable amount and developed greatly as a referee."
Referee Daniel Sims said: "The IberCup tournament provided me with a fantastic opportunity to develop as a match official, learning from my colleagues and top-quality coaches.
"I can't wait to put the coaching points into action in the new season."